Henry B. Gonzalez

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For the mayor of South Gate, California, see Henry C. Gonzalez.
Henry B. Gonzalez
Henry B Gonzalez.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 20th district
In office
November 4, 1961[1] – January 3, 1999
Preceded by Paul J. Kilday
Succeeded by Charlie Gonzalez
Personal details
Born Enrique Barbosa González
(1916-05-03)May 3, 1916
San Antonio, Texas
Died November 28, 2000(2000-11-28) (aged 84)
San Antonio, Texas
Political party Democratic
Religion Roman Catholic

Henry Barbosa González (born Enrique Barbosa González;[2] May 3, 1916 – November 28, 2000) was a Democratic politician from the state of Texas. He represented Texas's 20th congressional district from 1961 to 1999.

Life and career[edit]

González was born in San Antonio, Texas, the son of Mexican-born parents Genoveva (née Barbosa) and Leonides Gonzalez (from Mapimi, Durango), who had immigrated during the Mexican Revolution.[3] He attended San Antonio College and the University of Texas at Austin, earning his undergraduate degree. Later, he received a Juris Doctor from St. Mary's University School of Law. Upon graduation, he became a probation officer, and was quickly promoted to the chief office of Bexar County, Texas. In 1950, he was Scoutmaster of Troop 90 of San Antonio,[4] of which his son was a member.[5]

González served on the San Antonio City Council from 1953 to 1956, when he was elected to the Texas Senate, having defeated the Republican candidate, Jesse Oppenheimer. In 1960, he defeated another Republican, Ike Simpson Kampmann, Jr. (1918-2006).[6] He remained in the Senate until 1961 and set the filibuster record in the chamber at the time[7] by speaking for twenty-two straight hours against a set of bills on segregation. Most of the bills were abandoned (eight out of ten). He ran for governor in 1958, finishing second in the Democratic primary (the real contest for governor in what was then a solidly Democratic state) to Price Daniel. In January 1961, González ran in the special election for Lyndon Johnson's Senate seat, finishing sixth. However, in September, 20th District Rep. Paul J. Kilday was appointed to the Court of Military Appeals. González ran in the special election for the San Antonio-based district in November and defeated a strong Republican candidate, John Goode.[6] However, Gonzalez would never face another contest nearly that close. He was unopposed for a full term in 1962 and was reelected seventeen times. He never faced truly serious or well-funded opposition, having been unopposed in 1970, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1982, and 1984. In fact, the 20th was (and still is) so heavily Democratic that González faced Republican opposition only five times and handily won each time.

González became known for his liberal views. In 1963, Republican congressman Ed Foreman called González a "communist" and a "pinko" and González confronted him. González was referred to as a "communist" in 1986 by a man at Earl Abel's restaurant, a popular San Antonio eatery. The 70-year-old representative responded by punching him in the face. González was acquitted of assault for this incident.

González was in President John F. Kennedy's motorcade through Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.[8] He recalled rolling down the window as his car neared the Texas School Book Depository, then hearing three distinct shots during the assassination.[8] González's car proceeded to Parkland Memorial Hospital where upon seeing a blood-caked bouquet of roses in the rear of Kennedy's limousine he initially believed Jackie Kennedy had been shot.[8] There, he saw Lyndon Johnson, Lady Bird Johnson, Mrs. Kennedy, and President Kennedy's sheet covered body.[8] González helped place Kennedy's casket in the hearse that transported Kennedy to Air Force One.[8]

Reported to be unsettled by the effect that the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. had on the nation, González pushed in 1975 for a House committee study.[8] In 1976, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) was created to investigate the deaths of President Kennedy and King, and González succeeded Thomas N. Downing as its chairman in January 1977.[8][9] After a power struggle with the HSCA's counsel, he resigned as the committee's chairman that same year.[8] Shortly before González chaired the HSCA, Robert P. Gemberling, head of the FBI's investigation of the Kennedy assassination for thirteen years after the release of the Warren Commission's report, said González, as well as Downing, had "preconceived conspiracy theories".[9] According to a 1992 report, González did not rule out the possibility of shots other than the three he heard were fired from a silencer.[8]

González introduced legislation calling for the impeachment of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. González also blocked hearings into Whitewater until finally agreeing to hold hearings in 1994. In 1997, González fell ill and was unable to return to the House for over a year. Finally, he decided not to run for a 19th full term in 1998. He had long groomed his son, Charlie, to succeed him. Charlie Gonzalez won easily in 1998 and served through January 2013; between them, father and son served 52 consecutive years in Congress.

He was an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve System and in 1993 proposed an audit of the central bank.

According to Gretchen Morgenson's book on the 2008 financial meltdown, "Reckless Endangerment," while head of the House Banking Committee, Gonzalez invited the organization ACORN "to help legislators define the goals when they were devising the new legislation covering Fannie and Freddie."


Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Hall in San Antonio, Texas


  1. ^ Official Congressional Biography
  2. ^ http://www.cah.utexas.edu/feature/0611/bio_two.php
  3. ^ http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~battle/reps/gonzalez.htm
  4. ^ "San Antonio, Troop 90". Retrieved 2010-06-30. 
  5. ^ Gonzalez, Charlie; Charlie Gonzalez (2010-06-30). 2010 Hispanic Leadership Awards (Speech). Washington, D.C. 
  6. ^ a b "Bexar County Republican History". bexargop.org. Retrieved May 19, 2012. 
  7. ^ The record was surpassed in 1977 by Senator Bill Meier of Tarrant County.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mittelstadt, Michelle (January 26, 1992). "Assassination questions: Texas congressman in JFK's motorcade wants records opened". The Victoria Advocate 146 (263) (Victoria, Texas). AP. pp. 1A, 10A. Retrieved August 30, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Chief of Kennedy Probe Convinced No Conspiracy". The Middlesboro Daily News (Middlesboro, Kentucky). UPI. December 22, 1976. Retrieved March 28, 2015. 
  10. ^ "History". Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. Retrieved 6 September 2012. 

External links[edit]

Texas Senate
Preceded by
O.E. (Ozzie) Latimer
Texas State Senator
from District 26 (San Antonio)

Succeeded by
Franklin Spears
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Paul J. Kilday
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 20th congressional district

Succeeded by
Charlie Gonzalez
Political offices
Preceded by
Fernand St. Germain
Rhode Island
Chairman of the House Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee
Succeeded by
Jim Leach